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Restoring kiwi jobs must be central to fishing inquiry

Restoring kiwi jobs must be central to fishing inquiry

The union representing 2,000 land-based seafood workers said today the Government’s inquiry into the fishing industry must include an extensive investigation into New Zealand job losses and strategies for restoring jobs to the industry.

Service and Food Workers Union Ngā Ringa Tota spokesperson Neville Donaldson said the terms of reference announced today included an imperative to fulfil the Government objectives to “maximise the economic return to New Zealand from our fishing resources”.

“Put simply, that means exercising political grunt to do what is takes to put career paths for kiwis back into the land-based fishing industry, allowing it to focus on the high-value product that provides a far greater return on the valuable resource owned by New Zealanders,” he said.

Mr Donaldson said the union had conducted a long campaign to have the issues addressed and in the main is pleased with the terms of reference.

“The 12,000 New Zealanders who signed a petition calling on Government for an extensive inquiry and the raft of political parties who have backed our call for the inquiry to include jobs expect restoring kiwi jobs to the fishing industry to be an important focus of the inquiry.”

Neville Donaldson said although the shameless exploitation of foreign crews obviously needs urgent attention, it was not the only issue.

“The inquiry also needs to robustly investigate the impact of changes in the industry and the subsequent loss of thousands of land-based jobs and the need to ensure the industry provides jobs and career opportunities in the future.

“This is critical for Māori workers, who have traditionally made up a large percentage of the workforce, and with Maori unemployment over 16% it is more important than ever.”

Neville Donaldson said failure to cover these issues would only serve to avoid the issues of the industry and not resolve them.

“As long as quota owners can hand over our fishing industry to foreign companies and foreign crews and as long as our seafood industry can ship New Zealand’s seafood resource to China for processing, New Zealanders will miss out on desperately needed jobs, career paths and maximum economic return for our fish products.”

Neville Donaldson said the Service and Food Workers Union was looking forward to very active participation in the inquiry.

ENDS

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